Social media has transformed the way people connect across continents, but now the Mission district is the test case to see whether it can strike up better interaction between neighbors.
The new iPhone application Blockboard went public last week with the goal of creating a location-based digital bulletin board for pretty much anything — a lost cat, a new piece of street art or a favorite dish at a local restaurant.
Blockboard co-founder Stephen Hood said the group of four developers chose the Mission because of its dynamic street life and the presence of active blogs, posts of which the app aims to aggregate.
The app will submit information about problems such as vandalism to The City’s 311 system. Hood said users have the option of whether to tag their photos and text with their location.
“Foursquare is about going out and about and marking your location. Twitter and Facebook are about all your friends and your social group,” Hood said. “We’re about your neighborhood.”
The app is currently only available for download if a mobile device tracks your GPS location in or near the Mission, so outside users won’t gum up the interaction. But Hood said the plan is to take the app into other San Francisco neighborhoods within a year, then eventually other cities.
“People literally don’t know the names of their neighbors, and that’s a problem if there is a major crisis in this city,” Hood said. “It’s a cultural shift. People are spending more time at work and interacting with social networks that aren’t tied to place.”
Allan Hough, the founder of the Mission Mission blog, said the app developers picked the right place to start.
“If it leads to more people reading our stuff, that’s good for me, especially in a mobile context where people are walking around instead of stuck at a desk,” Hough said. “The Mission is the best neighborhood in the world with all the coolest people in the world. Something like that is going to take off.”
Formerly known as BlockChalk, the app is being financially backed by Delicious founder Joshua Schachter and Lotus founder Mitch Kapor. Hood said Blockboard has been downloaded a few hundred times so far.